“Tra la, it’s May, the lusty month of May. It’s mad, it’s gay, alive a lust display. Those dreary vows that everyone takes, everyone breaks, everyone makes divine mistakes. The lusty month of May”.
As every self-respecting gay guy knows, this tune is from Lerner and Lowes’ mega Broadway hit, “Camelot”. Growing up in the 1960’s I must have played the album on my parents’ stereo hundreds of times. I’m surprised I didn’t wear it out! It became my mantra. Whenever I was feeling a little down, I’d put it on the hi-fi and instantly be transported to a magical place – who could have guessed that I would grow up to be gay right?
May always makes me think about my mother, and not just because of Mothers’ Day. My mothers’ birthday was on May 15th which often fell on Mothers’ Day or close enough so that I only had to buy one present. Hey, don’t judge me. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been accused of being cheap.
Studies reveal that most of our personality traits show up at an early age – maybe being as early as the womb. If you don’t believe me, try a little experiment. Dig out those old photographs of yourself growing up. Is there the tell-tale hand on the hip or the occasional limp wrist? Like I said, some things have always been a part of us. Photos don’t lie.
That reminds me of when I was nine years old and getting ready to make my Confirmation in the Catholic Church. Te priest had told my catechism class to pick a Confirmation name from one of our favorite Saints. I chose the name “Francis”, because I had an Uncle Frank and I loved animals just like my favorite patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi.
At least, that’s the story I told everyone. The real reason was that I envied all those princesses in my story books always being rescued by the handsome prince so I figured that “Francis” was the closest I could get to have a girl’s name while still technically being a boy’s name. I’m not sure it really fooled anyone. By anyone’s guess, I was still a little light in the loafers.
Anyway, like I said, you just can’t fight who you are. It’s going to “come out” sooner or later. Who knew years later that the name of my favorite patron saint would come back to haunt me. It seemed every jock in Junior and High School used it when referring to me. If I heard it once, I heard it a million times – “That Olsson’ such a sissy!” (sigh) It became my new mantra; whether I liked it or not.
I attended Parochial school until the seventh grade. When I was finally released for good behavior. Say goodbye to frustrated senior nuns as teachers and hello to ex-marines for gym teachers and coaches. All in all it was pretty much the same thing except the nuns had beards.
When I say that I was raised Catholic, you have to understand that my family was very Catholic. We had priests in the family on both sides, all the children and grandchildren attended Catholic schools. My Grandfather was an usher and later a Deacon in the Catholic Church. In fact, even my father was in the Seminary to become a priest when he was younger. Thankfully, he had a sudden change of heart and decided to marry my mother instead.
I left the Catholic Church in my early twenties and have never looked back. Unfortunately this makes me the black sheep of the family. It’s never mentioned, but I can hear the pity in their voices and I know that somewhere several Novena candles are being lit to save my poor deluded soul from purgatory.
I must admit that my spiritual journey has had a long and checkered past. I’ve dallied with more denominations than a dry drunk. This includes everything from agnostic to Seventh – day Adventist, Assemblies of God, Non-Denominational, Southern Baptist, Methodist, to my presto day Church, Unity.
For most of my life I have been in denial in regards to my sexuality. I received the message from the church and society at large that to be a homosexual was the lowest, most despicable thing a person could sink to. Consequently, I found myself attending churches with a similar message. This only served to further ingrain their toxic message deeper into my psyche, thus increasing my own self-loathing.
My answer to all of this was a self-prescribed improvement program to make myself “normal.” I was determined to distance myself from that chubby, insecure, mama’s boy I used to be or die trying. You guessed it, I had decided to “butch-it-up!”
I began working out with weights after school; I drank protein shakes and ate raw eggs by the dozen. I to wearing cut-off shorts without a shirt. I spit whenever and wherever I wanted to. I even found a girlfriend. We dated all through High School and she became my first. Yeah, she was my first “beard.” I would have done anything back then to fit in.
Unfortunately, it started me down a long, slippery slope of self-denial and confusion that has take me thirty years and untold hours of counseling to find my way back from. Denial isn’t pretty! Like they say, “it’s not just a river in Egypt”.
Also, during this same time, I became involved in something called the ex-gay movement. This was back in the early 1980’s and Exodus International was a fledging movement started somewhere in Southern California. It wasn’t until years later that I learned the two men who had first began the movement eventually abandoned their beliefs and ended up in a relationship with each other.
I, however believing myself to be “cured” eventually married and had two children. They are the precious gems to come out of all this. My marriage, on the other hand, was a disaster waiting to happen. We were to broken people looking to the other to make us whole. We went to church and called ourselves Christians, but I can see now that it was a façade. Just another desperate attempt on my part to be accepted as a normal by Society that had some pretty stringent ideas on what was “normal.”
My marriage crumbled right at the ten year mark. My wife had decided that she was through and no amount of arguing or pleading would change her mind. I spent the next ten years continuing to deny who I was in the hopes of getting my family back. After all, it was the only family I had now that my parents were gone. But is was to no avail.
Then in 2013, I heard that the then Director of Exodus International, Alan Chambers, had come out with a bold proclamation. He stated that after much introspection and prayer, he had come to the conclusion that sexual orientation is NOT something that can be changed. This goes along with what the Psychological community had been saying for years. And so, to the objection of evangelicals everywhere, Exodus International closed its’ doors for good. HALELUAH!
I don’t believe in coincidences, I believe in God’s perfect timing. And this came at just the right time for me. I was now fifth-five and starting to wonder if I was ever to start living my life for me! I was tired of being the perfect little boy who did everything that was expected of him. Honestly, where had it gotten me? And besides I had stopped being a “little boy” a long time ago. I decided then and there to stop living the life that had been most of my life; to stop worrying what others thought about me – it was my life after all, Gosh darn-it!
Sometimes I’m tempted to feel a little sorry for myself because I’ve been such a late bloomer. I kind of feel like Cinderella arriving to the ball at 1:00 am only to find the hall deserted with no Prince Charming in site. My hairline is thinning while my waistline is expanding. I wonder are my best years behind me?, will I ever find the man of my dreams now that I’ve finally tome to the fair-late, as usual, but at least I’m here. I finally decided to show up for me. Are my best years behind me? only if I make it so.
I choose to believe that the best is yet to come! I know that I can make the second half of my life exceptional, far surpassing what has come before. Because for the first time in my life, it’s my life and I am living it for me! I finally realized that I am responsible for my own happiness and success. I am no longer looking to others to define who I am.
I strongly believe that we’re all exactly as God created us to be. We all need to embrace and celebrate the unique gift each of us is as children of God. That also means accepting who we are sexually. God invented sex; he didn’t think it’s dirty or shameful. That’s mans’ take on it or rather guilt trip. Gold thinks sex is beautiful, the giving completely of one person to another. It’s meant to bind us together in relationship. Don’t forget that God is also the author of diversity. Don’t believe me? Just look around at all the varieties we find in nature. It’s mind boggling! Think of all the different species of animals, fish and plants there are. How boring it would be if we were all the same. Yes, God created men and woman so that they would procreate and populate the earth; I’m not disputing that fact. But don’t you think in this vast universe that there’s room for a little variety and diversity. Personally, I think the planet has been populated plenty. Maybe someone could put the word out that they can slow down a little bit on the procreating. Like hey, enough already!
Perhaps homosexuality is God’s way of off-setting the population growth. Who knows? I’ve heard that here are numerous examples of homosexual behavior among many species of animals. You can’t get more natural than that! Anyway, it’s definitely something to think about.
God speed until next time.